Marlene Rose Retzlaff graduated with a Bachelor of Laws from Auckland University of Technology on Tuesday afternoon, marking three generations of lawyers in her family.
Daughter of Pastor Warren and Mrs Julie Retzlaff, Marlene Rose says she was inspired by her grandfather and her uncle to study Law.
Marlene’s grandfather and uncle on her father’s side are both former Attorney Generals of Samoa, and the young graduate says it is an honour to walk in their footsteps.
Member of Parliament for 23 years, Lesamatauanu’u Tugaga Misa Telefoni Retzlaff served as Samoa’s Deputy Prime Minister for ten years from 2001-2011. Also a Fellow Public Accountant, Misa served as Minister of Finance, and held the ministerial portfolios for Health, Agriculture, Audit Office, Commerce and Industry among others during his time as an MP. He has authored several books, including his latest, Tautua Memoirs of a Public Servant.
Marlene’s uncle Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff has a Masters of Law and served as Attorney General of Samoa from 2016- 2020. Lemalu has taught Commercial Law at the National University of Samoa, and is currently the Public Defender for Waitakere, New Zealand.
“I feel blessed to walk in the footsteps of my Pa and my uncle,” shares Marlene.
“It is an honour for me to have the same degree as they do.”
“They are big shoes to fill,” Marlene says with a smile, “but I feel blessed and am very grateful to have them both as mentors,” she adds.
Marlene gave praise to God for guiding her through her journey which she says was not always easy, especially through the covid pandemic and lockdowns.
Marlene, 24, thanked her family and friends for their support, especially her grandparents and parents.
“I’m grateful to my grandparents and my parents; for without them, I wouldn’t be here today..”
Marlene’s maternal grandparents are Colin and Leota Ula Leuluaialii Orum. Her grandmother holding a title from Solosolo.
Speaking at Marlene’s graduation, Tugaga Lesamatauanu’u Misa Telefoni Retzlaff encouraged his grandchildren to persue careers in something they love.
“If you love what you do, you will do well and you will become great at it,” said Misa.
“People who don’t love what they do, are rarely any good, because it’s very difficult to be good at something that you don’t love doing..”
Misa says the one thing he did notice during Marlene’s journey of studies at AUT, is that she grew to love the Law.
“My granddaughter loves the Law.. And because you love the Law Marlene, the Law will love you back, and you will become very good at it..”
Misa Telefoni says he has been blessed to have attended two graduations for his grandchildren this month.
Marlene was emotional in thanking her grandfather. “Thank you Pa. Thank you for being an inspiration to me. We don’t thank you enough for all that you do for us.”
For Marlene, she says she hopes to be a good lawyer, but also hopes to keep a good work-life balance so she can spend lots of time with family.
“Getting together as a family is really important to me, and I want to be by my siblings and cousins side, whenever they need me.”
Marlene’s villages in Samoa include Malaela Aleipata, Faletagaloa Safune, Asau, Falelatai and Solosolo.